The Wall Street journal has an excellent profile of Terrance Watanabe, of whom, if you looked up “whale” in the dictionary, you’d find a picture.
A whale, of course, is what casinos call the uber-high rollers who blow gobs of money, and provide a major source of income.
During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million.
The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe’s personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family’s party-favour import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos’ parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year.
Watanabe’s suing the casinos now, saying the casinos aggressively plied with him liquor, food, prescription drugs, and other “services” to get him to stay. The employees even had a picture of Watanabe on the wall in their back offices, so they all knew exactly what he looked like, and could attend to his needs.
We doubt the casinos will be forced to cough up much money for him — and we doubt his story will elicit much sympathy from anyone — though it will likely bring increased scrutiny to the tactics casinos use to keep pumping high rollers for money.
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